East Crete Gorges
WALKING IN EAST CRETE
Crete is the most complete walking holiday destination among the Greek Islands, it has all that any walker of any level could wish for. The most ideal way to explore the area of East Crete is by walking on coastal paths, ascending the highest peaks and crossing spectacular gorges where each season gives magnificent colours and interests. We have a special book for sale (€20,95) with 33 very well documented gorge walks in the East of Crete. In this book you'll find drawings about the routes and the GPS - codes for the routes.
Experience now one of the amazing helicopter tours for up to 5 people offering scenic flights over the East of Crete. A helicopter tour makes a great addition to any vacation package. You wil get a unique perspective on the amazing beauty of East Crete with great views over the mountains in Crete. This is absolutely the best way to see the beauty for this part of the island. Drop us an email via our contact page and we will get back to you regarding the possibilities for an unforgettable tour in a selected Airbus AS-355 helicopter.
CYCLING EAST CRETE
Keep on moving. Pedalling your bike up incredible hills of wild untamed panorama, on small roads or trails, paved or unpaved. East Crete nature is a true El Dorado for cyclists. The area spoils weekend pedal pushers, leisure bikers, cross-country-cruisers, adrenalin addicted downhillers and altimeter hunters alike. If you can suffer leaving your sun bed on the beach or at the pool for just a day – or even half a day – you may discover the original East Crete beyond the shores.
CANYON OF THE DEAD
The Zakros Gorge is one of the most popular East Crete Gorges. It starts a little after the village of Pano Zakros (Upper Zakros) and ends at the village and idyllic beach of Kato Zakros (Lower Zakros). The gorge is both beautiful and accessible, although its other name, the “Gorge of the Dead” may seem rather worrying at first if you don’t know its history. Its name is attributed to the ancient Minoan inhabitants of Kato Zakros, custom of burying their dead in the caverns that lie on the vertical walls of the canyon, risking their own life in the process. In these caves were also discovered tombs and finds of great archaeological value, which are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia. For this reason it is named "Gorge of the Dead" and the caves "Caves of the Dead”. It’s a canyon of great archeological value, easy to traverse – even for beginners -, that ends up in the archeological site of Kato Zakros and its wonderful beach. The canyon of the Dead in Kato Zakros is the final part of the European trail E4, that starts in Portugal and crosses Europe.
Pefki Gorge is a small and magnificent gorge in the southeast of Crete, with impressive rock formations and rich vegetation. It begins south of Pefki village and ends up a little to the north of the location of Aspros Potamos, at Makrigialos. It is a clear and sighted walk on tracks and paths, with some scrambling over rough terrain. Easy for young and old to make the trip down. The Pefki gorge is in a pine forest and the green colour of the pine will be in front of your eyes as you are walking through the gorge. Apart from pine trees (Pefka in Greek) and other common Cretan vegetation, such as thyme and sage bushes, the earth is blanketed in colourful oak and you will see many olive and carob trees. The wonderful landscape with the rocks undertake you in a pleasant walk through the gorge. On the south side of the gorge is a spring of fresh drinking water, here you can easily fill up a bottle with cold mountain water. During the route walkers will see the beautiful landscaped view to the endless and blue south Mediterranean sea of East Crete.
GORGE OF RICHTIS
The Richtis gorge is one of the most beautiful, amazing and small gorges in North East Crete. It has a clearly, red dotted marked route that follows the river, which has running water year round and forms a lovely waterfall. The start is just outside the village of Exo Mouliana in the North East of Crete and the total length of the route is approximately 5 kilometres. The elevation difference between the starting point and the beach is about 350 meters. The gorge of Richtis is often called a tropical Cretan jungle. In this wonderland you will find it’s best kept highlight, the beautiful waterfall of over 20 meters with a small pond formed below it. At the end it spills into a dreamy lake, surrounded by a carpet of moss, which is a great place for a picnic. The waterfall has water even in summer! Impressive also are the old water mills that the visitors will meet in the path.
Wild flowers, oleander and sage are numerous, and the smells of fresh herbs change constantly. The path finishes in the beautiful pebbly and isolated beach of Richtis, east from the village Kalavro.
One of the most picturesque villages of Crete, Kato Zakros (Lower Zakros) truly lies at the eastern end of East Crete. It is one of these places you definitely need to visit. The scenery to get there is like a green oasis in a landscape characterised by rich vegetation, due to the numerous springs in the area. You will arrive at the Kata Zakros bay at the end of a dazzling and exciting road which ends at this wonderful coast with crystal clear waters and a large beach with some wonderful tavernas next to it. Many people call this little Paradise, the place that has most impressed them in the whole of Crete. The visitor to Zakros has the chance to admire places of unique beauty and archaeological importance. The Zakros Minoan palace is located only 100 metre from the beach and is one of the latest vestiges of the ancient Minoan civilisation, built around 1900 BC. The findings in Zakros Palace are considered to be of the most important discoveries and they are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia. Apart from a visit to the Minoan site the visitors can follow the path along the coast to the beautiful and majestic Cave of Pelekita.
The Pelekita Cave is located near the sea and about 5 km away from Kato Zakros and above the small bay of Karoumbi. The name Pelekita Cave is derived from the nearby quarry, below the cave near the sea, from which stones have been extracted. In this cave you can admire beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. Its entrance is at 105 metre above sea level and the view to the sea from there is magnificent. The cave is one of the biggest in Crete with a length of 310 metre and its area is approximately 4.500 square metres. It has large chambers with towering columns and majestic pillars, up to 40 metres in width and 15 metres in height. Vistors of the cave become impressed with its size, with the majestic beauty of the natural decor and with the absolute calmness that evokes strong emotions. The cave is also known as "Sikias Spilios" (the fig tree's cave) due to the old fig tree that is located near its entrance. At the end of the cave there is a small lake. Traces of habitation from the Neolithic era have been found in Cave Pelekita. Take care inside the cave, the first part is easy to enter, further it could be dangerous to go on.
Since the early Christian years, Crete became a cradle of Orthodox Christianity. This is also reflected on the hundreds of religious monuments in East Crete. Religious tradition is very intense in this part of Crete and is present in everyday life of the East Cretans. Crete has an autonomous Archbishopric, separate from the rest of Greece. With thousands of places of worship and dozens of monasteries that have played a special role in the consolidation of Christianity and the struggle against the invaders, East Crete is an ideal religious and historic destination. Since the early Christian times, when Paul the Apostle visited Crete and preached the new religion for two years, the Christian tradition developed through the centuries. Remote places of monastic self-exile, traces of early Christian basilicas, cavernous chapels and painted Byzantine churches are found everywhere in the East of Crete. We have a special guidebook available with 19 religious routes all around the East of Crete. The guide includes 153 important Religious Monuments, all well described with clear routes and pictures.